Company that would operate Norwich ice rink asks for changes in contract

Norwich — The quick work by the city’s negotiating team to reach a deal with Wonderland of Ice Associates of Bridgeport to take over management of the shuttered Norwich ice rink isn’t quite done yet.

The City Council will hold a special meeting Monday to discuss changes to the contract with Wonderland of Ice before signing the agreement to turn over the financially struggling rink to the private management firm.

The council on Monday approved a 10-year lease with three 10-year extensions with the firm, which would run the rink under the name Norwich Rosegarden Ice Associates LLC.

City officials said Friday that Wonderland asked for “substantial” changes to some terms of the contract, and the full City Council would have to approve the changes.

Mayor Deberey Hinchey declined to comment on the substance of the changes but said they “are not doom and gloom” that would negate the plans to reach an agreement with Wonderland.

Wonderland owner Lisa Fedick said in the city’s haste to complete the written contract in time for last Monday’s council meeting, bullet points on financial matters were inserted. Fedick said she was out of town and did not have a chance to review the final changes.

“There was one stipulation that we didn’t feel comfortable with,” she said.

She said it was not a major issue, but she and city officials wanted to make sure all parties are comfortable with the final version “so everything’s fine, and we’ll be ready to go.”

The last-minute changes forced cancellation of a planned meeting by the Norwich Ice Rink Authority Thursday to approve and sign the contract. The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday to discuss the changes in executive session before possibly voting on the revisions in open session. The rink authority is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. July 17 to vote on the deal.

“We want to make sure the council is aware of that,” Hinchey said of the changes. “We decided to expedite things and call a special meeting. It’s something we have to work out, but I think we’re still looking to go full steam ahead.”

The approved contract called for Wonderland to operate the rink year-round and pay the city 5 percent of adjusted gross revenues during the first three years. In the fourth year, Wonderland would pay the city either 5 percent of adjusted gross revenues or $75,000, whichever is greater. Payment percentages would increase in future years, depending on the rink’s revenues, to as much as 10 percent of adjusted gross revenues if the rink makes more than $800,000 per year.

Wonderland also agreed to replace the rink’s failed cooling system and make other major renovations and to take over the city’s three-year contract with current rink director Doug Roberts Jr., who earns $60,000 this year.

The rink closed on June 29, when the city disconnected a temporary rented chiller unit. Wonderland is expected to complete the renovations and reopen the rink Oct. 1.

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